Longtime Gaithersburg High School football coach Kreg Kephart has an affinity for playing on natural grass surfaces, but this week his Trojans will be hosting their first home game in school history on artificial turf.
“Call me old school, but I would prefer that football be played in natural elements on real grass,” he said Friday following a 20-7 loss at Springbrook. “The artificial stuff is much better than it used to be, but I don’t know. Anyway, we will be on the field ready to go.”
Gaithersburg (1-1) is scheduled to host Sherwood (1-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Trojans were expected to open at home two weeks ago against Richard Montgomery, but the game was moved due to construction at the school, which is being rebuilt. All of their remaining home games this fall will be played Saturday afternoons since the stadium’s lights are not connected to electricity, Kephart said.
“Obviously it would’ve been nice to open on our home field,” quarterback Nick DeCarlo said. “But it wasn’t ready and it wasn’t a big deal. We still come out and practice hard. Turf is good to play on especially in [bad] weather, but it really doesn’t matter.”
DeCarlo, however, did say the 2 p.m. kickoff might affect the team’s pregame routine. Games throughout the county generally start at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays.
“It is a pain being in the afternoon, but we were looking forward to it. … I just hope a lot of our fans show up because we’ll need them against a great team like Sherwood.”
Added Kephart: “I’m used to the afternoon because that’s when all the games used to be. But it may take the kids a little while to get used to that type of schedule. We’ll have to do a good job coaching them.”
Of the county’s 25 public high schools, four — Gaithersburg, Richard Montgomery, Walter Johnson and Montgomery Blair — have artificial football fields.
On the field — artificial or natural — Kephart said the Trojans are seeking consistency.
During their 33-30 come-from-behind victory against Richard Montgomery on Aug. 31, the offense was explosive behind a four-touchdown, 195-yard performance by junior running back Solomon Vault, who gained 20 pounds during the offseason in an effort to become a more complete back.
On Friday, Gaithersburg was held to seven points and committed several miscues during the loss at Springbrook. The receivers combined to drop at least three likely touchdown passes, and Vault was held to just 58 yards on 11 carries.
“We won week one on turf and we got beat on grass [Friday],” Kephart quipped. “Maybe we are a turf team. Who the heck knows? It doesn’t matter what our surroundings look like. Football is football.”